The National Sport of Guatemala is Soccer.
Soccer in Guatemala brings people together, fostering a sense of national pride and unity among its passionate fans.
To learn more about sports culture in Guatemala, read our article about the most popular sports in Guatemala.
Table of Contents
#1 History of Soccer
- 19th century: Introduction of soccer to Guatemala by European immigrants and travelers, particularly from England.
- 1902: Foundation of the National Football Association of Guatemala (Fedefut).
- 1943: Liga Mayor de Fútbol, Guatemala’s premier soccer league, is established.
- 1960: Guatemala hosts the inaugural Central American and Caribbean Games, showcasing soccer as a major sport in the country.
- 1976: Guatemala’s national team participates in the Olympic Games for the first time.
- 2000: Municipal, a popular Guatemalan soccer club, wins the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, increasing interest in the sport nationally.
#2 Culture and Traditions
Soccer holds a significant place in Guatemala’s cultural identity, uniting people of all backgrounds and social classes. Fans passionately support their local teams, and soccer matches are a popular gathering spot for families and friends.
Local derbies, such as the Clásico Chapín between traditional rivals Comunicaciones and Municipal, are an integral part of Guatemala’s soccer landscape. These intense match-ups evoke emotions and strengthen connections among fans as they don their club’s colors and cheer together.
Furthermore, Guatemala participates in various men’s and women’s soccer tournaments within Central America, such as the Central American Games, the Central American Cup, and the UNCAF Women’s Championship. These events foster regional camaraderie and showcase soccer’s impact within the community.
#3 How it Works: Rules, Gameplay and Equipment
📕 Rules & Gameplay
- Match Duration: A soccer match consists of two 45-minute halves, separated by a 15-minute halftime break.
- Objective: Each team aims to score by getting the ball into the opposing team’s goal.
- Players: Each team consists of 11 players, including one goalkeeper.
- Offside: A player is offside if they are closer to the opponent’s goal than both the ball and the second-last opponent when the ball is played to them.
- Fouls: Direct and indirect free-kicks and penalty kicks are awarded for infringements of the rules.
⚙️ Equipment & Gear
- Ball: Round and made of leather or other suitable materials.
- Goalposts: Situated at each end of the field, measuring 7.32 meters wide and 2.44 meters tall.
- Kits: Teams wear distinguishing jerseys, with goalkeepers donning different colors to stand out.
- Shin Guards: Protective gear worn to shield players from potential tackles or impact.
- Boots: Specialized soccer shoes designed for the sport’s demands.
#4 Modern Development of Soccer
In recent years, soccer in Guatemala has experienced an increased focus on developing local talent and improving infrastructure. This includes investments in training facilities, sports complexes, and youth academies, aimed at fostering a competitive and sustainable soccer ecosystem.
Technological advancements have also influenced the sport in Guatemala, with the implementation of digital platforms for live streaming, news updates, and fan engagement. This increased accessibility and connectivity have catered to a wider audience and helped promote the sport across the country.
Additionally, women’s soccer has been gaining momentum in recent decades. The establishment of the Liga Nacional Femenina, Guatemala’s women’s soccer league, and the increasing participation of the national women’s team in regional competitions reflect the rising interest and development of the women’s game.
#5 Soccer and the Olympics
Soccer has been a part of the Olympic Games since the early 1900s, with the men’s tournament being introduced in 1900 and the women’s event in 1996. Guatemala’s first participation in soccer at the Olympic Games occurred in 1976, and since then, the country has taken part in various Olympic qualifications, fostering national interest in the sport.
The Olympic Games have consistently showcased a high level of competition and talent in soccer, giving athletes a platform to showcase their skills and win global recognition. Moreover, the Olympics have played an important role in promoting soccer, inspiring generations of young athletes to pursue their dreams in the sport.
#6 Famous Athletes and Achievements
- Carlos Ruiz: Nicknamed “El Pescadito,” Ruiz is considered one of Guatemala’s all-time greats. He holds the record as the top scorer for the Guatemala national team and had a successful career in Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States.
- Guillermo Ramírez: Ramírez had a successful international career, representing Guatemala in numerous competitions. His winning goal in the 2005 MLS Cup Final for the Los Angeles Galaxy is one of his most memorable moments.
- Mario Rodríguez: Rodríguez, often known as “El Loco,” enjoyed a lengthy career both in Guatemala and overseas. He is remembered for his creative skills and leadership on the field.
- Ricardo Jerez Jr: A talented goalkeeper, Jerez Jr. has made significant contributions to the national team, while also playing for various clubs in Central and South America. His composure and shot-stopping abilities have earned him widespread recognition.
#7 Where to watch Soccer
- Tigo Sports and ESPN: Tigo Sports is a leading broadcaster in Guatemala, providing extensive coverage of national and international soccer events, while ESPN offers additional options for soccer matches, especially in top European leagues.
- Televisiete (Channel 7): A local Guatemalan channel that occasionally broadcasts soccer events and highlights.
- Live in Guatemala: Experience live soccer matches at iconic stadiums like Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores in Guatemala City and Estadio Mario Camposeco in Quetzaltenango, where the country’s top teams and national team play their home games.